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Col. Frontispiece and sixteen full-page 
illustrations. Second Edition (xvi -f 96) 

E. F. STRANGE, MJ.S. With two 
Coloured and numerous full-page 
Illustrations. Second Edition (yii + 85) 

two Coloured and numerous full-page 
Illustrations (viii + 85) 

DIRCKS. With two Photogravures and 
eleven full-page Illustrations (viii + 72) 

By A. ZACHER. With two Photo- 
gravures and numerous full-page Illus- 
trations (viii + 88) 

Etching and sixteen full-page Illustra- 
tions (viii + 95) 

BERNAYS. With two Coloured and 
numerous full-page Illustrations 

(viii + 85) 


THE following essay is, so far as its facts 
go, necessarily a compilation from the 
works of other writers, European and 
Japanese. Of the former the chief are the charm- 
ing treatise by M. E. de Goncourt, and the 
exhaustive monograph by M. Revon the latter, 
by far the most complete and exhaustive examina- 
tion of the subject which has yet appeared, either 
in Europe or Japan. Other authors to whom 
the present writer is greatly indebted are, the 
late Professor Anderson and M. Gonse, Professor 
C. J. Holmes, MM. Bing and Hayashi, Mr. 
F. V. Dickins ; while the translations of Messrs. 
Kowaki, Minakata and R. Kohitsu have been of 
inestimable value. There still exists much mis- 
apprehension as to the place in art of Hokusai ; 
and to assist in a right understanding of this, and 
at the same time to interest the ever increasing 
public which cares for works of beauty and for the 
men who made them, has been the only aim of this 
small book. 


September, 1906 



' ' ' 

THE "MANGWA " l . 





" SURIMONO " -g 








HOTEL From an original drawing in the Victoria and 

Albert Museum Frontispiece 


ETSU f ac ' n g p' 8 


vol. x. . . . . . . . 1 6 


From the " loo Views of Fuji," -vol. /'/., A.D. 1834 . 24 


From the" $6 Views of Fuji" . . . 28 

ONE OF THE 108 CHINESE HEROES. From the " Suikoden" 

A.D. 1829 ,,36 

ably A.D. I80O) ,,40 


<l Views of the Tokaido Road " in " surimono " style . ,, 42 
A WARRIOR. From an original drawing in the Victoria 

and Albert Museum ...... f>#ge 47 


Done by Hokusai in his j6th year (A.D. 1835) . .facing p. 50 
DESIGN FOR A LANTERN-HOLDER. Done by Hokusai in his 

jjth year (A.D. 1836) page 57 

A POET PRESENTING HIS WORKS. From the *' 50 Verses of 

Comic Poetry^ each with a portrait of the author " A.D. 1819 61 

SIGNATURES 13, 33, 35, 36, 41 



THE private life of a great artist may or 
may not be of account in the estimation 
of his public work. In the case of 
Hokusai, not the least tribute to his greatness is 
that no single fact that has yet been disinterred, 
relating to the story and the manner ofjiisjiving, 
can be disassociated from the practice (rfjiis art. 
For that, alone, he employed every moment of his 
many days ; and for that alone, when the end came, 
did he desire that years might have been added 
unto him. 

Hokusai was born in the Honjo quarter of Yedo, 
in the ninth month of the tenth year of the period 
Horeki (/'.*., October-November 1760) ; as stated 
by himself on a drawing of the deity Daikoku, in 
the possession of the bookseller, Kobayashi. He 


was the son of an artisan a maker of mirrors 
Nakajima Issai. His family name was Nakamura 
Hachiyemon; the first of which appellations having, 
very probably, been derived from those of his real 
father and of another artisan who is said to have 
adopted him Kawamura Ichiroyemon. Hokusai 
always claimed to have descended on his mother's 
side from one of the retainers of Kira, who was 
killed in the defence of his lord by the Forty-Seven 
Ronin, an episode which supplied the subject for 
one of his best-known series of colour-prints. 
Another of his many names, Katsushika, was derived 
from the quarter of the city in which he lived. 

He was an eldest son, as shown by his name, 
Tokitaro (first-born son) ; and is related to have 
shown great intelligence even as a boy. At the 
age of thirteen or fourteen years, he began his 
apprenticeship to an engraver ; an occupation which, 
though it only lasted until about the year 1778, can 
hardly fail to have played its part in the technical 
development of the artist. He is related to have 
worked also in the service of the keeper of a lending 
library ; and thus to have been inspired to the career 
of an illustrator of books. Whether this latter story 
be true or not, there are substantial and authentic 


evidences of the other ; for some of his woodcuts 
have been identified. During this time he took the 
name Tetsuzo. 

At the age of eighteen, he undertook the first 
definite step towards the adoption of an artist's 
career, by entering the studio or perhaps it were 
better to say, the workshop of Katsukawa Shunsho, 
one of the most able of the painters of the Popular 
School, who devoted himself mainly to the produc- 
tion of colour-prints. In a very little time he 
perfected himself so thoroughly in the style of this 
artist as to receive from him the customary token 
of recognition of the progress of a pupil permission 
to adopt a name based on that of his master ; and 
his work was accordingly signed, for a brief period, 
Katsugawa Shunro. During this time he also illus- 
trated several books of a humorous nature. 

His character, however, was too independent to 
be trammelled for long with the mannerisms of any 
single style. He soon exhausted the narrow coji- 
ventions of the Ukiyoye^ and turned his attention, 
by an easy and natural transition, to those of that 
school of Japanese painting which was most nearly 
allied therewith the Kano. In the eyes of 
Shunsho, this defection must have seemed to be 


something almost amounting to treachery. Hokusai 
was summarily expelled, and forbidden to use the 
name Katsugawa. Almost immediately after this 
event, another incident happened. Hokusai had 
made a sign a poster, one would say for a picture- 
dealer, in his newly adopted style. It was seen by 
Shunko, the favourite and most successful pupil of 
Shunsho, who, reproaching the shopkeeper for daring 
to exhibit to the world so bad a piece of work, tore 
it to pieces before the very eyes of Hokusai. The 
latter recognised the justness of the criticism. He 
made no protest ; but, when very old, said one day 
to a friend : " If Shunko had not insulted me, I 
should never have become a great draughtsman." 

He now (A.D. 1785) devoted himself mainly to 
book illustration ; using, successively, the names 
Sono Shunro and Goummatei. In 1787 he was 
attracted by the style of Sori 3 an almost ^contem- 
porary painter, with some affinities both to the Tosa 
School and to that of Korin, the great designer ; 
and, for a while, again changed his artist name to 
that of Hishigawa Sor[ (A.D. 1787). But these 
wanderings so seriously imperilled his livelihood, 
that for a while he had to abandon his profession 
and earn a bare subsistence by hawking such small 


goods as calendars and red pepper about the streets. 
One day, when thus employed, he sawL_his old 
master, Shunsho, approaching ; but, for shame to 
be seen in such a condition, avoided him in the 
crowd. In this poverty he lived until the spring 
of the next year, when he received an unexpected 
commission to paint an image of Shoki, the Demon- 
queller, on a banner for the great Festival of Boys, 
which always takes place on the fifth day of the fifth 
month. For this he received two ryo of gold a 
sum that raised him at once to comparative affluence. 
His spirits revived ; and he made a vow henceforth 
to dYat^Jiisjwhoje_Jife_Jo_art. From this time 
(A*D. 1789) begins that extraordinary and unfailing 
industry which characterised him to the day of his 

In this year also he formed one of his most 
notable connections that with the great novelist 
Bakin, several of whose works he illustrated ; and 
within a few years had established his reputation as 
a painter so well that he was selected, with others, 
by the artist Kano Yusen to assist in the restoration 
of the temple at Nikko. On the way he had to 
submit to another hard lesson. To please the 
keeper of an inn at which the party rested, Yusen 


made a sketch of a boy knocking down fruit from a 
tree with a bamboo pole. Hokusai, examining it, 
must needs say to one of his companions that the 
master ought to have had a better idea of drawing ; 
for, although the pole reached far above the fruit, 
he had drawn the boy standing on tip-toe. Yusen 
heard the criticism. He, in great anger, soundly 
rated Hokusai for not having seen that the intention 
was to represent a clumsy boy, and_fortjiwith_d|s-_ 
missed him. Hokusai returned to Yedo and carried 
his studies a stage further by working at the styles 
of Torin and Hiroyuki, of the Tosa school ; then 
that of Shiba Kokan, to whom he was indebted 
for some outline of European methods learned by 
Kokan at Nagasaki ; and, finally, of the great 
Chinese painters of the MingJDjnSty. Onbases 
so broad did he build the inimitable manner of his 
mature life. 

For to 'none of these styles did he adhere, even 
for a short time. In 1799 he adopted a new 
manner, and signalised the fact by taking a name, 
in which that by which he is best known now 
first appears. The appellation Hokusai Shinsei is 
derived from words meaning " Star of the northern 
constellation" (the Great Bear), and it was chosen 


in reference to the deity Myoken, for whom the 
artist had a special veneration. A little while after, 
however, a narrow escape from being struck by 
lightning caused the name Shinsei to be given to a 
disciple, in order to make way for those of Raito 
and Raishin, both allied with the word rai y " light- 

At this time Hokusai's reputation began to spread, 
and he had a particular success among the Dutch 
merchants, who were then allowed to trade at 
Nagasaki, and, at intervals, to visit Yedo. In this 
connection occurred a famous episode, which is 
worth repeating for the sake of the light it throws 
upon the artist's personal character. A Dutch 
captain commissioned him to paint two makimono 
(rolls), representing typical scenes in the lives of a 
Japanese man and woman respectively, at a price 
agreed upon, and the ship's doctor ordered two 
similar works. After a few days the rolls were 
delivered to the captain, who paid without demur ; 
but the doctor, on receiving his, endeavoured to 
beat the artist down, pleading poverty. Hokusai 
was then, as usual, in severe straits for money, but 
he was too proud to endure such treatment, and 
refused to part with his work for less than the 


stipulated reward. When he returned home his 
wife reproached him with not having sold the 
drawings for what they would fetch, seeing that in 
Japan they would be of little value and no one 
would buy them. But he replied that, in dealing 
with a foreigner, it was especially necessary to keep 
to the terms of his bargain, lest it should be thought 
that a Japanese said one thing and meant another. 
When the captain heard of the incident he at once 
purchased the second pair of rolls himself ; and, the 
report spreading, it is said that the Dutch bought 
Hokusai's drawings by hundreds and sent them 
home to Holland, until the Shogun's Government, 
fearing that the secrets of the defences of the 
country might by this means be revealed, forbade 
the traffic. None of these drawings have yet been 
authentically identified. If any could be traced, 
they would be of almost inestimable value. 

In 1804 Hokusai made the first of those gigantic 
tours de force of which the report had been handed 
down to us, on the occasion of a temple festival on 
the fourteenth day of the fourth month : a huge 
figure of Dharma, painted with enormous brushes 
from veritable casks of Indian ink on such a scale 
that the design could only be realised by those who 


mounted, with ladders, to the temple roof. This 
and similar exercises impressed the imagination of 
the multitude, and gained for the artist such general 
fame that he was even ordered to display his powers 
before the Shogun lyenari in a sort of competition 
with Buncho. After drawing a number of ordinary 
themes flowers, birds, landscapes, and the like 
Hokusai again prepared a great roll of paper, and 
with a brush or, one might say, broom, traced 
thereon the curves of a mighty river. Then, 
dipping the feet of a cock in orange-red, he allowed 
the bird to walk over his design, and so brought to 
the mind of all his beholders the famous river Tatsuta, 
with maple leaves of autumn floating on its stream. 
Buncho acknowledged himself vanquished, and 
henceforth the fame of Hokusai was established in 
the eyes of the people. 

In 1807 began a curious and intermittent connec- 
tion with the great novelist Bakin, an intercourse 
varied with many quarrels. And in 1810 Hokusai 
found himself at variance with another popular idol, 
the actor Onoye Baiko. The latter was famous for 
his power of representing ghosts ; and asked some- 
what peremptorily, one imagines Hokusai to make 
a drawing for him of a special kind of phantom. 


Hokusai, feeling probably the contempt for the 
actor class which inspired even the lower orders of 
artisans in Old Japan, and possibly offended by the 
form of the request, made no reply to the invitation. 
The actor thereupon went to the artist's house in 
some state ; and having entered the poor and barely 
furnished room in which Hokusai was working, 
ostentatiously spread a mat for himself to sit 
upon, before beginning the conversation. Hokusai 
treated his visitor with contemptuous indifference ; 
utterly ignoring his presence. After vain efforts to 
induce him to speak, Baiko withdrew, angry and 
humiliated : but eventually made the most com- 
plete apology and was forgiven. 

Some few years afterwards occurred that visit to 
Nagoya which produced the Mangwa (see chapter 
ii. for an examination into the precise date) ; and 
this was followed by journeys to Kishiu (about the 
year 1823), Osaka, and the capital of the Mikado, 
Kyoto, where his reception seems to have been any- 
thing but enthusiastic. He then returned to Yedo, 
where he worked steadily without incident, except 
for a severe attack of paralysis (about the year 1828 
or 1829); which, however, he got the better of. 
In 1831-1832, he made yet another excursion to 


Shinano, and stayed for a whole year with one of 
his admirers, a rich wine merchant ; and in 1834 
or 1835 he betook himself to Uraga, living in con- 
cealment, for some reason unknown, under the 
name of Myuraya Hachiyemon : during which he 
wrote some pathetic letters, preserved, fortunately, 
in the Katsushika Hokusal Den. He returned to 
Yedo in the autumn of 1836 during a period of 
famine ; and, for awhile was able to maintain him- 
self only by the most untiring industry, exchanging 
his drawings for small portions of rice ; even, for 
the same reward, turning casual strokes made by 
his customers on silk and brought to him for the 
purpose, into finished designs undreamt of by their 
originators. And so he survived ; only, in 1839 
in the seventyTninth year of his age to experience 
yet another misfortune. In this year, his house 
was burnt down ; and he lost, not merely his 
possessions in the ordinary sense of the word, but 
a priceless accumulation of studies, preserved since 
the days of his early youth. His very brushes 
were destroyed. But such was his indomitable 
energy that he hired another dwelling on credit ; 
and with bowl and painting-slabs, extemporised 
from the fragments of a broken bottle found in the 


ruins of his old house, set himself again to work 
with a veritable rage of enthusiasm. 

In 1848, he changed his dwelling for the last of 
many times his habit of moving being a standing 
joke with his friends and left the Honjo quarter 
for a house near the monastery of Ensho in the 
Asakusa quarter of Yedo. He fell ill in the spring 
of the following year ; and the case soon became 
hopeless. His pupils and friends gathered around 
the old man ; and did all in their power to ease his 
last moments ; but the desire of life was strong, and 
even after all the troubles he had undergone he 
could not leave his art without regret. " If only 
Heaven could have lent me ten more years," he 
sighed ; and then, " if Heaven had lent me but five 
years more, I should have become a true painter." 
These were his last words. 

He died on the i8th day of the ninth month of the 
second year of Kayei (May 10, 1849 ). His simple 
funeral was yet followed by several daimyo with 
their retainers, as well as by a great crowd of pupils 
and friends, to the astonishment and envy of his 
neighbours. He was buried in the monastery or 
Sekiyogi, in the Honjo quarter of Yedo ; and 
received the Buddhist name of Shinshi Man of 


Sincerity. His tombstone is still there, in the 
tnTrd row on the left of the entrance : inscribed 
"Tomb of Gwakyo Rojin Manji, of the family or 
Sawamura," " Hokusai, of the province of Shimosa, 
famous artist, honest man " and his many other 
names, and a poem. And there, amid the humble 
monuments of artisan and trader, such men as those 
with whom his life was lived, lies the body of one 
of the greatest artists the world has ever seen. 




OF all the works of Hokusai perhaps none 
is more widely known, or has been 
received with more general appreciation, 
than his wonderful encyclopaedia of Japanese life, 
Hokusai Mangwa. It consists, in all, of fifteen 
volumes of woodcut reproductions of sketches, 
drawn with the most amazing freedom, imagination 
and directness, and lightly tinted. The title was 
chosen by the master himself; and its meaning is, 
in this connection, simply, "rapid sketches" or 
more fully, " drawing as it comes spontaneously." 
The writer of the preface to the fourth volume 
classifies pictorial art as consisting either of gwa 
(sketches), %u (pictures) 'and utsushi (exact copies) ; 
and quotes this saying of Hokusai, " There is a 
saying of the ancients to the following effect : 


* who cannot stand cannot walk, who cannot walk 
cannot run.' Now, to stand is shin (to copy faith- 
fully), to walk is gyo (to picture), to run is so (dash 
off a rapid sketch)." 

The Mangwa owed its inception to a visit paid 
by Hokusai to Nagoya, where he stayed in the 
house of Honshu Keijin, the writer of the preface to 
the first volume ; and there made the acquaintance 
of Gekkwotei Bokusen, " to the great delight of 
both." Over three hundred sketches were made as 
illustrations of his theory of art "nothing in 
Nature was unattempted " and on a foundation so 
broad was his great achievement reared. Each 
volume has its own preface, written by some 
admirer and personal friend, one would conclude, or 
the artist ; and from these we are able to gather in- 
valuable hints as to the impression made on the 
minds of his contemporaries. Several of the writers 
were authors : Rokujuyen, a humorous poet who, 
however, has given us nothing farcical ; Shoku- 
sarjin, also a poet "a teetotaller loving cakes, and 
hating liquor " ; Shikitei Samba, a novelist ; 
Ryutei Tanehiko, the author of a series of short 
stories of the " Hundred and Eight Chinese 
Heroes," illustrated by Hokusai's pupil, Hokkei, and 


of other works ; and Sankin Gwaishi Ogasa, per- 
haps another name of the novelist, Bakin who 
wrote his preface " by lamplight, at a window look- 
ing out on a rainy night." Then we have also, 
Hozan Gyo-6 Shiki, " the sage old angler " ; " the 
old man " Shurodai " ; the old gentleman " Hya- 
kushu." Most of them refer pleasantly to their 
age ; and we may form a suggestive picture of a 
coterie of simple-minded, wise, enthusiastic old men, 
dominated by the impulsive, masterful, difficult 
artist, himself at the beginning of the period being 
well over fifty years : a good age for Japan. 

The actual date on which the Mangwa was 
begun is a matter of some doubt. The preface to 
the first volume is dated precisely, tenth month of 
the ninth year of Bunkwa (December 1812) ; which 
would appear conclusive enough, and has been 
accepted as final by such authorities as M. E. 
de Goncourt and Mr. F. V. Dickins. But the 
principal Japanese life of Hokusai, on the other 
hand, states with equal assurance that the work was 
begun in the course of a visit which Hokusai paid 
to his friend and pupil Bokusen, in 1817, at 
Nagoya ; and though Mr. Dickins dismisses this as 
an error, M. Revon not only accepts it as authentic, 


but has found what he considers to be ample corrob- 
oration of the later year, in the autumn of which 
he believes the book to have made its first appear- 
ance. A third date, 1810, given by some European 
writers, rests on no evidence at all ; and a fourth, 
Bunkwa n (A.D. 1814-15), on that of a statement 
of the editor of the fifteenth volume, published in 
1878 ; and is certainly inaccurate. In favour of the 
ascription of the work to the year 1812, some 
importance may be attached to two facts, not 
hitherto brought into the argument by any writer 
on the subject. First, that the date of the tenth 
volume, tenth month or Bunsei 10 (A.D. 1819), 
has never been questioned ; and bears on its face 
every impress of truth, in the characteristic appro- 
priation of a series of tens for a notable and 
auspicious achievement. Now, in the preface to 
volume v., a passage occurs which has thus 
been translated by Mr. Dickins (Japan Society's 
Transactions^ vol. vi. part iii.) : " These * random 
sketches ' . . . have for some time past, owing to 
the favour with which the earlier ones were received, 
been engraved and published year after year, and 
the present one is the fifth of the series. . . ." The 
expression which I have italicised would hardly 



have been used if the " series " had begun only in 
1817 ; especially when time enough for the appear- 
ance of yet another five volumes had to be allowed 
before 1819. M. de Goncourt considered that 
volume ii. was issued in 1814 ; the third in 1815 ; 
five volumes in 1816 ; and the ninth and tenth in 
1819 ; an estimate which is perhaps nearly enough 
reliable as far as the earlier volumes are concerned. 
But there is no evidence in the prefaces of so 
remarkable a fact as the production of five volumes 
in any one year ; while, on the other hand, those 
of numbers six, eight, and nine, each suggest 
strongly the idea of a series appearing at nearly 
regular intervals. 

The second point against the date 1817 is its 
association with Bokusen. This artist, in 1815, 
published a work entitled, Bokusen Sogwa (Sketches 
from Life by Bokusen), in which he further describes 
himself as pupil of Hokusai. This work is a fairly 
close imitation of the early volumes of the Mangwa^ 
both 'in style, execution, and selection of subject. 
Of course it is inconceivable that the latter should 
not have been the first to appear, ; while the date of 
the former is undeniable. Moreover, it is distinctly 
stated in the preface to volume i. of the Mangwa, 


that it was in the autumn of its appearance that 
Hokusai first made Bokusen's acquaintance ; so 
that the conclusion must be, that the date of the 
beginning of the work being necessarily earlier than 
1815, we have no reason for rejecting the authen- 
ticity of that given above, December 1812. 

The contents of the Mangwa are thus described 
in the advertisement of the tenth volume : 

I. Here the author gives rein to his sense or 
humour in a variety of miscellaneous information. 
The work will be completed in due course. 

II. Things omitted from volume i. ; men and 
women, plants, trees, landscapes, birds and beasts, 
fish, insects, and creeping things. 

III. Continuation of II., miscellaneous contents, 
all sorts of things. 

IV. Examples of rapid and extempore work 
(acrobatic art). 

V. Torii, halls, pagodas, temples, court nobles, 
galleries, official buildings, priests' dwellings. 

VI. Various modes of fencing, archery, gunnery, 
and everything pertaining to the honourable pro- 
fession of arms. 

VII. Landscapes under wind, rain, snow, rime 
in different provinces. 


VIII. Supplementary to earlier volumes, also 
cultivation of silkworms, the different kinds or 
embroidery, &c. 

IX. Chinese and Japanese heroes, and women 
famous for heroism or virtue. 

X. Shrines, monasteries, Buddhism, necro- 
mancers, professors of occult arts, types of ordi- 
nary men and women. 

These ten volumes constitute the chief portion 
of the work, and that most intimately associated with 
Hokusai personally. At some date after 1819, the 
blocks of those which had already appeared were 
bought by Yerakuya Toshiro of Nagoya, who 
published two more volumes in 1834, and an 
additional two in 1849, of which the latter was 
issued after the death of the artist. A fifteenth 
volume appeared after a considerable lapse of time ; 
compiled from miscellaneous sketches left by Ho- 
kusai ; but as there was not in existence enough 
material to fill it, and none of the pupils of Hokusai 
had survived, contributions were obtained from 
other artists of Nagoya : the most notable being 
Kyosai, whose signature is attached to two plates. 
The contents of these later volumes hardly need 
particular description. They are of the same varied 


nature as those which went before ; and, mainly, 
are executed with the same skill. 

As a general rule, the fidelity with which Japanese 
wood-engravers have been able to reproduce draw- 
ings in facsimile is little less than extraordinary ; 
but the average copies met with of the Mangwa 
are disappointing in this respect. The blocks seem 
to have worn very rapidly ; and even in the best 
impressions, the result does not strike one as being 
entirely satisfactory. This is due to the printing, 
which must have been entrusted to hands far less 
able than those which made the delicate surimono 
and superb broadsheets. The tints of red and 
blue required careful gradation and most judicious 
handling, but seem only to have received much 
the same mechanical treatment that would have 
resulted from the use of a press. Probably the 
work was done very cheaply. The master's draw- 
ing is reproduced accurately enough. We can 
realise the fertility of his conceptions and his 
amazing dexterity of handling, his keen observa- 
tion, his great good-humour, and the poignant 
wit of his art. And into these lines we can, at 
least, try to read the subtlety of light and shade that 
he desired to accompany them, and regret that his 



original drawings were, by the exigencies of the 
process employed for perpetuating and disseminating 
them, of necessity destroyed. 

Even at that, the work remains his masterpiece. 
And when we count up other series of designs 
accomplished by the great masters of the world's 
art the woodcuts of Dtirer, the etchings of 
Rembrandt and Whistler, the portraits of Holbein, 
the Liber Studiorum of Turner we may not deny 
a place therewith to the Mangwa of Hokusai. 


IF any average student were asked what subject 
of all others was most characteristic of Japa- 
nese art his answer would almost infallibly, 
and very rightly, be JVIount Fuji. This splendid 
peak, dominating the whole empire, has for cen- 
turies been accepted as an ^mbodiment of the 
guardian spirit of Japan. The old legend is that it 
was cast up by the same convulsion of Nature that 
caused the formation of Lake Biwa, itself one of 
the greatest beauties of Japanese landscape. And 
around them both has grown a wealth of story, an 
infinite poesy, that has never failed to incite the 
emulation of the painter, the draughtsman, the 
decorator. On the most minute sword ornaments, 
its superb curves are exquisitely chiselled in iron 
and inlaid with gold or silver ; on great kakemono 


the sweeping brush of the masters of painting have 
traced them in all their fine simplicity. It was 
inevitable that iiokusai, looking out upon his world 
with keen enjoyment of all that it offered to his 
artistic sense, should seize upon a subject so noble 
and so intensely patriotic. It was almost inevitable, 
moreover, that he, out-broken from all the trammels 
of his conventional predecessors, should be the first 
to realise its possibilities ; to mark the innumerable 
variations that it presented to him who would see 
them ; and, for the first time, depict them not as 
images remote and separate, but in the most inti- 
mate relationship with the daily incidents of that 
ever-flowing current of human affairs which it was 
the highest aim of his school to record. It is this 
quality which especially enforces the appeal of all 
Hokusai's work to Europeans incapable of under- 
standing, and generally undesirous of appreciating, 
the subtle philosophy and symbolism underlying 
the compositions of the masters of the classical 
schools of Japan and China. And no better 
example can be found of the working out of this, 
his tendency, than in the seven-score odd drawings 
he had engraved and published of the Peerless 



The first with which we have to deal were pro- 
duced between the years 1823 and 1829 under the 
title so well known to Western amateurs " The 
Thirty-six Viewsj)fJVlount Fuji," Fugaku Sanjiu- 
rokkei, the artist being then well over sixty years of 
age. They are broadsheet, of about the usual size 
(14 inches in height by 10 in width), and are 
printed in several colours, a fine blue, apple-green, 
and dull rich red being predominant. The scheme 
of colour was absolutely Hokusai's own, and it is 
somewhat singular to remark that, although he used 
it so freely (in other series as well as this), and 
although his popularity was so great and so endur- 
ing, it was never copied by other colour-print 
designers who attempted landscape ; although a 
modification was used by one or two of his pupils. 
In spite of the title, the series really consists of 
forty-six plates, a list of them being given, in the 
Appendix, in the order chosen by the late E. de 

The second series appeared in book form, filling 
three volumes. Its Japanese title is simply Fugaku 
Hyakkei, "The HundredJSews_of^Fuji," and it 
was published, with a preface by Ryutei Tanehiko 
(who performed the same office for the eleventh 


volume of the Mangwa in 1834), in the hand- 
writing of Tosai, dated the fourth month of the 
fourth year of Tempo (May- June 1834). The 
cuts are in monochrome, black with a grey tint 
one edition has black only and there are 
1 02 of them, including the frontispiece a repre- 
sentation of a female deity, Mokuge-Miraku-ya-hlme- 
ho-mikoto the sublime goddess of flowers and trees. 
The two first volumes appeared in 1834-1835, 
signed by the artist Gwakyo Rojin Manji ; they 
were engraved by Yegawa Tomekichi and his 
pupils, and published by Nishimura of Yedo. The 
third is undated. It was engraved by Yegawa Sentaro, 
and published at Nagoya by Yerakua Toshino. At 
Nagoya, also, was published the whole of the edition 
in black only, as well as a later one in tint. In 
addition to these, reference must be made to the 
admirable reprint arranged by Mr. F. V. Dickins 
(London : B. T. Batsford, 1880, 4 vols.), with full 
translations of the preface and descriptive titles. 

The series is not a haphazard collection or 
sketches. It begins on a high note of religious 
mystery ; the first plate being a representation of 
the Shinto goddess of flowers and trees a deity 
closely allied to Amaterasu, the goddess of light. 


She holds a mirror and a branch of the sakaki tree, 
and gazes downwards from the heavens in an attitude 
of beneficent meditation. Next we have the moun- 
tain itself, in all its splendid majesty ; the summit, 
snow-clad, rising with a mighty sweep beyond the 
bounds of the picture a point of some significance. 
In the foreground is a group of villagers and officials 
wondering at the sight for herein Hokusai repre- 
sents the legendary birth of Fuji in the year B.C. 285. 
Then, again, comes a touch of mysticism the 
Buddhist saint, Yen no Shokaku, exorcising demons 
upon the very top of the mountain ; and so, 
reverently, the master brings us to one of his most 
superb compositions, " Fuji on a Bright Day." The 
peak of the mountain rises, lone and afar, beyond a 
great expanse of hills, and lowlands, and lake upon 
which just a few tiny boats are placed, to bring into 
scale with mere humanity, the majesty of the subject. 
The sky is flecked with a ripple of shining clouds, 
more than rivalled in brightness by the snow that 
yet clothes the heights. The keynote of the 
theme is solitude ; and in no other view of the whole 
series do we get so grand a concentration of force 
on the expression of a single thought. 

But when Hokusai has once rendered due honour 


to the sublimity of his subject he gives full play to 
the restless vigour of his observation. We have 
seen the great mountain and its guardian spirits : 
now it is time to bring humanity upon the scene. 
With a perfection of fitness, the master chooses for 
the purpose the day of the commencement of the 
pilgrimage season ; and shows us a wooded ravine 
filled with pilgrims, toiling painfully upward. For 
the most part, only their great hats, marked with 
the proper cypher, can be seen a characteristically 
humorous point of view to have been chosen but, 
here and there, is a face, and a hand grasping the 
necessary staff. Again, we have the pilgrims, their 
task accomplished, striding down the cinderous 
slopes then, a wonderful and almost grotesque ren- 
dering of the panic and devastation caused by the 
great earthquake and eruption of 1707 ; and so we 
pass into some of the innumerable intimacies of 
the Peerless Mountain, with the kindly folk who 
live around and adore it. 

One cannot spare space for detailed consideration 
of these : moreover, the work has already been 
so well done by Mr. Dickins that a reiteration 
is needless. But one or two of the drawings claim 
a special word of comment. For instance, the 


composition of No. XX. in vol. i., "Fuji mirrored 
in the Rice Marshes," with the flock of geese on 
the margin of the water, is daring and extraordinarily 
successful. In No. XXV. of the same volume, the 
sun is setting in glory, just behind the apex of the 
mountain ; and so revealing itself as a gigantic 
mirror and stand, but still more, to us, reminiscent 
of the national flag of Japan. In Plate III. of the 
second volume, Fuji, just lit by the rays of the 
rising sun, is seen, most beautifully, to glisten 
between the stems of a group of bamboos, waving 
in the morning breeze. Plate V. again has a note 
of mystery ; the snow-clad peak rising above the 
clouds that enshroud the dragon coiled about it. In 
Plate IX. it rises beyond the crest of one of those 
great waves that Hokusai loved to draw, and drew 
so magnificently ; and in XVI. is one of the rare 
portraits of the artist himself, with a picnic party 
on the edge of the rice-fields, painting his beloved 
mountain. Bridges and streets, storm and calm, 
crowds and solitude over all Fuji rises supreme and 
wonder-compelling. The old priest (in XXIX. 
vol. ii.) leaves his writing to throw up his arms in 
admiration as he catches sight of the mountain in 
the round window beyond his desk. The lines or 


Fuji mingle and contrast with the web of a spider, 
the mesh of a fishing-net, the look-out of a fireman 
rising above the village roofs. Artisans at their 
work, ambassadors journeying in ceremonial state, 
astronomers on their observatory roofs, all stay to 
admire its graceful outlines ; until " with a last 
flourish of the brush, the master gives us, once 
more, the great cone, in simple loneliness, clouds 
and shadows gathering about its base." 

The whole can only be described as a splendid 
epic instinct with poetry and beauty and romance 
and yet filled to the full with the keenest and 
most kindly humanity. It is rare to find such 
qualities allied with the complete powers of artistic 
expression : and if Hokusai had done no work other 
than these two series of views of Mount Fuji, his 
reputation would stand high among the artists ot 
the world.* 

* Hokusai is known also to have made a set of eight 
views of Mount Fuji (Revon, cxxxviii.), which appears, 
unfortunately, to have been lost ; and he also con- 
tributed one illustration in colours to a collection of 
poems, Fujimi-no-tsura " The Admirers of Fuji," signed 
Gwakydjin Hokusai (Hayashi, 1711). 


HOKUSAI produced many colour-prints 
other than the great series of " Views of 
Mount Fuji" already described. Among 
these were several sets of admirable landscape, in 
which, nevertheless, we almost always find a con- 
siderable human interest. His figures of men and 
women are more than mere counters in the scheme 
of composition ; even where the landscape, as such, 
is the dominant feature ; and in his treatment of 
them one marks the same kindly humour that is 
characteristic of his other work. 

No complete list of these broadsheets has yet been 
compiled ; and indeed the task of making a complete 
catalogue of Hokusai's work would be an under- 
taking of great magnitude, in spite of the valuable 
contributions towards it, already accumulated by 


the labours of MM. E. de Goncourt, Revon, and 
Hayashi. In the present work an attempt to deal 
with even the chief of them would be out of place ; 
but some brief indication may be given of the nature 
of a few of the best known and most characteristic. 
Somewhat similar in general style to the coloured 
"Views of Mount Fuji" are a series of eleven 
" Picturesque Views of Famous Bridges in the 
Provinces." These are signed Zen Hokusai Tame- 
JkazUy and were published by the famous printseller, 
Yeijudo, of whom Toyokuni made an interesting 
portrait. The quaint lines of the old bridges of 
Japan, now fast disappearing under stress of the 
requirements of modern civilisation, appealed 
strongly to the artist. He took a keen delight in 
the contrasts afforded by these works of men's 
hands, with the mountains and rivers, highlands and 
lowlands, woods and plains in which nature 
expresses herself : and the combination is seen and 
rendered with daring and originality. One of the 
most typical of them is now reproduced ; and it 
affords a pleasant indication of Hokusai's methods. 
Not without deliberation has he introduced, on the 
rock at the right of the picture, a couple of goats ; 
one of which leaves for a moment the all-important 



operation of grazing, in order to watch the success 
with which the two heavily laden coolies are emula- 
ting his own surefooted ness in their perilous passage. 
All the details of the composition 
the precipitous rocks and tree- 
tops just appearing above the mist, 
the flight of birds of one kind above, 
and of wild geese below the bridge, 
suggest the great height and danger 
of the hanging bridge. It is in this 
sense that all Hokusai's pictures 
must be studied to realise their 
allusiveness and imagery and the 
completeness and sincerity with which the artist 
enunciates his ideas. He inscribed this print, 
" Drawn from Nature." 

A companion set is that of eight " Waterfalls ot 
the Provinces," issued by the same publisher ; and 
to it, also, the above remarks fully apply. Both 
have the general colour-scheme of the Fuji series 
apple-green, blue, reds and yellow being the pre- 
vailing tints. With them may also be grouped a 
publication by Moriyama, "Eight Views of me 
Riu-kiu (Loo-choo) Islands," in which the green 
and yellow are less predominant. Fine impressions 



of these prints are rare. B They have been frequently 
reprinted in crude colours, which dolittle justice to 
the artist. 

Another group consists of illustrations, mainly of 
the life of cities and suburbs. The earliest and 
most important of them is the well-known ^fzuma 
Asobi (Walks round the Eastern Capital) ; a series 
of views of Yedo, engraved by Ando Yenchi, with 
text by Senso-an, and published by Tsutaya Juza- 
buro ; a.picture of whose shop, with stacks of prints, 
three assistants, and Tsutaya himself waiting on a 
customer, is not the least of the many interesting 
subjects therein contained. This publication con- 
tains, also, the famous view of the Dutchmen's 
quarters at Nagasaki, with Japanese passers-by in 
the street making fun of the curious foreigners 
behind the bars ; a curious piece of evidence, were 
such wanted, of HokusaPs acquaintance with that 
town. In all respects, the spirit and evident accuracy 
of the drawings give to the book the importance of 
an historical document of the first class. Old 
Yedo (the modern Tokyo) is now almost a thing of 
the past ; and when the day comes for its history to 
be written, these sketches will be found to possess a 
high value apart from their worth as works of art. 


The first edition of the <J[zuma Asobi, which is rare, 
appeared in 1797, and was printed in black only. 
In 1802 it was reprinted in colours ; and was 
followed by the Toto meisho ichiran 
(Views on the Celebrated Quarters 
of Yedo), by the same engraver ; 
and, in 1806, by the Tehon Sumi- 
dagawa rlogan ichiran (Views on 
both Banks of the Sumida River), 
with text by Senkwado Tsuruya, 
and published by Kojiro Narayasu. 
An interesting, and often amus- 
ing, set of views of the Tokaido 
the old high road from Yedo 
to Kyoto was published at the 
former city by Nishimura in 1798- 
1799. The fifty-six plates of the 
recognised halting-places are small in size, only 
about six and a half inches square ; but the land- 
scape is of little importance : merely what one might 
call the symbol of each famous view being intro- 
duced in connection with humorous incidents 
of the journey. Hokusai made also another and 
larger set of views of this favourite subject, im- 
mortalised by the genius of the two Hiroshige, in 



the succeeding generation. He also, in spite of the 
assertions of some writers to the contrary, made at 
least two series of illustrations of that splendid epic 
of Old Japan, the " Story of the Forty- 
J* seven Ronin," with which, as we 

have seen, he claimed some ancestral 
connection. One belongs to his 
earlier period, and is signed Kako, 
and is of little importance. A later 
version is better known and was 
printed by Idzumi Ichi. 

Hokusai designed few nishikiye 
the ordinary broadsheets as com- 
pared with many of the other artists 
of his school ; and those few on quite 
original lines. Perhaps the finest of them is a large- 
sized print representing a great fish working its way 
up a waterfall the Japanese symbol of perseverance. 
This is a magnificent composition, and superb in 
colour. It is interesting to note that it was some- 
what closely imitated both by the first Toyokuni 
and also by Keisai Yeisen ; though neither suc- 
ceeded in equalling the achievement of the master. 
Another notable print represents a carp in a whirl- 
pool, the scheme being carried out in deep blues 




and green. This also has extraordinary merits as a 
decorative design more so, in fact, than is usual 
with the work of the artist. A word of reference 
is also due to some singularly beautiful prints of 
flowers. Other prints can hardly be enumerated 
here. It must suffice to repeat that they are 
generally quite free from the conventions of 
Hokusai's contemporaries often more akin to 
paintings, of which indeed they are rather tran- 
scripts, than drawings made for the special process 
of colour-printing. These works have nothing in 
common with the prints of Utamaro, Toyokuni, 
Yeishi and the rest, save in their technique. Here, 
as always, the great artist must needs follow a line 
of his own, regardless of the demands of the 
market or the custom of his fellows. 

From the year 1781 to that of his death Hokusai 
continued, almost without interruption, to make 
illustrations for books of every kind story-books, 
novels, poems, and a whole series of collections of 
designs and sketches other than the great Mangwa 
already dealt with. Most of these illustrations are 
reproduced in black-and-white, sometimes, especially 
in the case of the sketch-books, with the addition of 
one or two tints. They show, as one would expect, 


daring and original powers of composition and 
draughtsmanship, with perhaps a greater insistence 
on mass and light shade than on the pure line and 
solid black used by earlier Japanese illustrators, 
such as Nishigawa Sukenobu. It is by no means 
difficult to obtain representative examples of them, 
although some are, of course, extremely rare. One 
would note, as especially worthy of study, in addition 
to those elsewhere referred to, the u Pictures of 
Chinese and Japanese Heroes," and the " Book of 
Birds " ; but these give only a small measure of the 
infinite variety and capacity of the artist's powers 
as an illustrator. 


AMONG Hokusai's colour-prints his splen- 
did series ofsurimono will always have an 
especial charm for those who know and 
appreciate them. This class of colour-prints is, it 
may be noted, of a quite personal nature. They 
were made for particular occasions, such as the New 
Year, to announce the birth of a son, a change of 
name, or such-like occurrence calling for congratu- 
lations ; and were often, though not quite always, 
issued by the artist as gifts, or supplied by him to a 
friend for that purpose. Thus one does not find on 
them the mark of a publisher. They seem to have 
been generally produced without any consideration 
for the exigencies of commerce ; and, in spite of a 
somewhat restricted traditional treatment, they 
consequently reflect the designer's taste in a very 
marked degree. Moreover, it is in surimono that we 
see the technique of colour-printing at its best. 


On them was lavished all the skill of the colourist 
and of the printer. Niceties of enrichment by 
what may be called blind tooling (gauffrage)^ the 
use of metallic powders, and every daintiness and 
refinement of colour, take the place of the broader 
effects of the larger prints. They are miniatures 
in every sense of the word, with an added charm of 
sentiment, which, however difficult for a European 
to realise, must still be allowed for in measuring 
their intrinsic value as works of art. Almost 
always they are allusive in subject, composed with 
symbols of good omen carefully chosen with the 
particular occasion in view. Very often the in- 
scription is one of those little poems of which the 
Japanese are so enamoured, reproduced in that fine 
caligraphy on which they set so high a value. The 
sum total is a print, of which our Christmas and 
New Year's cards offer but the most remote reflec- 
tion, and, be it remembered always, made for the 
delectation of the artisan class of the community. 

Among the many artists who, during the seventy 
odd years that the fashion obtained in Japan, gave 
their attention to -work of this kind, Hokusai is 
easily pre-eminent ; and next to him come his 
pupils, Gakutei, Hokkei, Hokuba. According to 



M. Edmond de Goncourt, whose study of this 
branch of his art is the most complete that has yet 
appeared, his first known mrimono is to be ascribed 
to the year 1793, and bears the signature ______ 

Mugara Shunro. It represents a young 
water-carrier seated on the yoke on 
which his vessels are carried, by the side 
of a small piece of furniture bearing pots 
of sugar, and bowls of porcelain and 
metal. It has no personal connection SHUNRO 
with Hokusai himself, having been made 
to announce a concert in honour of a musician who 
was changing his name ; and it gives a list of the per- 
formers and the following invitation (translated from 
the French of M. de Goncourt), the date being July 
of the year above mentioned : " In spite of the great 
heat, I hope that you are in good health, and I beg to 
inform you that my name is changed, thanks to my 
success with the public ; and that, to celebrate the in- 
auguration of my new name, on the 4th day of next 
month I am giving a concert at the house of Kioya of 
Ryogoku, with the assistance of all my pupils, from 
ten in the morning until four o'clock in the after- 
noon; and be the weather wet or fine, I count on the 
honour of a visit from you, Tokiwazu Mozitayu." 


Surimono have been identified by M. de Goncourt 
with most of the succeeding years. These early 
examples ranging up to 1804, a time of his greatest 
output are, for the most part, small in size, about 
that of one of our playing-cards. They are very 
delicately executed in rose-pink, green, purple, 
yellow and brown ; and most beautifully composed 
and drawn. The figures of the women, in particular, 
are remarkable for their exquisite grace of line ; and 
the strong characterisation which distinguished the 
artist's later work only appears tentatively. The 
Japanese calendar associates years, months, and 
days with certain animals in a regular cycle ; and 
chronological allusions to these are of common 
occurrence in the designs, and thus form a ready 
means of fixing the date. Some of them appeared 
in series ; as, for instance, a set of representations of 
various industries (1799) ; the childhood of fifteen 
heroes (1800) ; the twelve animals of the zodiac 
(1801) ; and many other groups ; while some few, 
of great beauty and rarity, are of large size un- 
usually wide in proportion to their height and 
depict landscapes, picnics, and similar scenes. M. de 
Goncourt mentions one, in two sheets, which is 
100 centimetres in width and the largest known ; 


the subject being a bridge with various passers-by, 
and among them, a figure, said to be a portrait of 
the artist himself. 

Hokusai continued to produce surimono in con- 
siderable numbers up to about the year 1835, after 
which he appears to have neglected this class of 
work. M. de Goncourt remarks that in the year 
1 820 we have the curious phenomenon of a distinct 
display of influence derived apparently from one of 
his best pupils, Gakutei. The surimono of Hokkei, 
another disciple, are also closely related to his later 
style ; of which a bolder colouring and design and 
the abandonment of that delicacy in both those 
qualities which marked the prints of the first group, 
are the chief characteristics. Many of these later 
surimono have been reprinted recently ; and are to 
be met with in most collections. The original 
blocks seem generally to have been used ; but the 
paper, artificially stained brown, and of coarse 
texture, is the best guide for the amateur, and this 
should generally be avoided unless the evidence of 
its authenticity and age is overwhelming. To this 
later period belong the series of still-life groups 
always symbolic of good- fortune for the special 
occasion which the master arranged and drew with 


singular skill. One series also (of the year 1823) 
has a particular and amusing interest. Toyokuni 
had, a little before, produced a deliberate plagiarism 
of the famous Mangwa. Hokusai retorted with a 
set of five surimono of actors in the manner of this 
artist ; and bearing this description : " I-itsu, the 
old man of Katsushika, playing the monkey-trick 
of imitating other people." 

Reference has already been made to the excellence 
of the surimono of three of Hokusafs pupils 
Hokuba, Gakutei, Hokkei. In different periods 
each of them equalled the master in execution ; 
though the inspiration in each case was his own. 
But the fact is notable, none the less ; for no other 
Japanese artist ever succeeded in attaining his level 
in any branch of art, even when the factor or 
originality is excluded. M. de Goncourt has 
published the most complete list of Hokusai's 
surimono yet made ; yet there are so many defi- 
ciencies therein that a collector who should care to 
specialise in this most fascinating branch of art 
would find that the investigation of it would afford 
him ample occupation. Such a task would be well 
worthy of the efforts of any one with time, patience, 
and skill enough to attempt it. 



IN considering the work of Hokusai as a painter, 
it is first of all necessary to have a clear idea 
of the essential characteristics of the art of 
the brush as uniformly practised in Japan. For 
therein we find radical differences from European 
methods. The use of oils, or tempera, whether 
on canvas or panel, did not exist in the former 
country, save for some rare and sporadic manifesta- 
tions of about the beginning of the seventeenth 
century, until the present generation began to 
imitate their Western contemporaries. The tech- 
nique of Japanese, following that of the Chinese 
painters, demands for material only a kind of water- 
colour sometimes approaching, in effect, to what 
we term gouache ; or, in its simplest form, just a 
monochrome of Indian ink. The brushes used 


were round in section, tapering to a long point, 
and held perpendicularly to the silk or paper on 
which the drawings were made. In the majority 
of cases the former material was employed ; a 
choice demanding unerring accuracy of execution, 
inasmuch as correction was absolutely out of the 

Trained from his boyhood in this technique, 
practically that of hand-writing, the Japanese 
painter needed, above all things, a perfectly clear 
idea of what he was going to do before he took his 
brush in hand. His subject had to be reduced, so 
to speak, to its simplest elements. There was no 
room for elaboration. On the contrary, his ten- 
dency was towards the perfection of a set of 
formulae which, according to the tenets of the 
various schools, should express completely and 
simply the idea he wished to convey. The ruling 
motive of all Japanese art was concentration. To 
the expression of the one central thought, all sub- 
ordinate or distracting detail was unhesitatingly 
sacrificed. Moreover, the themes of the painters 
were largely a matter of tradition. The tyranny 
of the masters seemed, until the intervention of 
European influences, as if it would be eternal and 


unrelenting. When Hokusai dared to paint in a 
style of his own, he was expelled from the studio. 
Because he persisted in working out his own salva- 
tion he has never been received into the hierarchy 
of Japanese art, save as a concession to European 
fashion for reasons hardly understood and probably 
despised, could the truth be told by Japanese critics. 
The whole matter, then, becomes one of mere 
calligraphy. Line, and the quality of it, is every- 
thing in all the Japanese schools, save that of the 
Buddhistic tradition, and even in these it has power. 
In the style affected by Hokusai a blend of those 
of the Chinese and Kano schools colour and mass 
play but a subordinate part. There is no light and 
shade, as we understand the terms, and but little 
modelling. Against these deficiencies is to be set 
an amazing dexterity of brush-work, which in 
Hokusai's hands degenerated as the Japanese 
critics would have it to mere juggling uncon- 
trolled. His mastery of the tools of his trade was 
such that he rose supreme to them. A stick, a 
piece of wood, the feet of a cock were sufficient for 
his need. He was if one may be forgiven a 
parallel from another art of our side of the world 
the Paganini of Japanese painting. 


But from the caligraphic point of view the 
Japanese critics hold that his work lacks refinement. 
It is that of an imperfectly educated man : coarse, 
clumsy, without taste. Moreover, he was indeed a 
realist. The old painters, even of the so-called 
Naturalistic sects, learned not from Nature, but 
from tradition. Hokusai tried to see for himself, 
and how great was the task is seen by his own 
words : " At the age of six," said he, " I had a 
fancy for reproducing form ; for fifty years I made 
many book illustrations, but even at seventy I had 
little skill. Only when I reached the age of seventy- 
three did I begin to understand how rightly to 
represent animals, birds, insects, fish, plants. At 
ninety I shall be better ; at a hundred I shall be 
sublime ; at a hundred and ten I shall give life to 
every line, to every dot. Let no one mock at 
these words ! " There was no false humility in 
these sayings. They are the plain truth as he, 
above all others, realised it. And they crystallise 
for us the splendid courage, the unfailing confidence 
with which the artist hailed his old age as the 
messenger not of failing powers and weakness 
but of wider intelligence and perfected accomplish- 
ment. He knew that he had but the span of his 



own life to attain that which had occupied genera- 
tions of his predecessors. He failed, but with so 
magnificent an effort as covered him with eternal 
glory. But his failure and his knowledge of it 
was proclaimed in the infinite pathos of his dying 
words : " If Fate had given me but five years 

more " 

There are but few of his paintings available for 
the study of Western critics, and it is hard to deal 
with them as one may with the works of a Euro- 
pean painter. Generally, as will have been gathered 
from the foregoing notes, they represent single 
figures warriors or deities, birds, animals, groups 
of fruit, and the like, drawn with splendid force and 
precision and tinted sometimes lightly and some- 
times with deep, rich masses of colour. Hokusai 
has suffered greatly from his imitators, and only a 
small proportion of the drawings bearing his name 
can justly be attributed to him. In judging one of 
these, one must accept only the best. The super- 
ficial characteristics of his style were easy to repro- 
duce, and two at least of his pupils, Teisai Hokuba 
and Hokkei, come very near to the master therein. 
But by Hokusai himself is to be found nothing 
which is not of the best, and our standard, in justice 



to him, must therefore be of the most rigid. The 
" old man mad with painting " loved his art far too 
well to do bad work. 

Hokusai founded no enduring school. While 
he lived his pupils followed more or less closely in 
his footsteps, but lost the trail as soon as the great 
inspiration of his personality was removed. He 
stood apart also from the other men of the Ukiyoye 
School apart from and above them. His one suc- 
cessor who owed nothing to the direct teaching 
of the master was the wild and turbulent genius, 
Kyosai, an artist who, had he possessed Hokusai's 
intense and consuming devotion to art alone, to the 
exclusion of all other interests and passions, might 
very nearly have equalled his great predecessor. 



IT is not a little difficult to place Hokusai 
rightly in the hierarchy of art. He stands 
in solitude, both as regards his compatriots 
and the artists of other nations. But his position 
in the eyes of Japanese connoisseurs has been much 
misunderstood, and a correct statement of it will 
not only be serviceable in solving the greater 
problem, but affords a singularly interesting illustra- 
tion of a curious and instructive phase of the social 
life of Japan. 

The secret of the whole matter is revealed by 
the sign that Hokusai himself affixed to his dwell- 
ing Hachiyemon, Peasant. He was always, con- 
sciously and proudly, an artisan ; a member of the 
Lower Order in the social scale. He was poor all 
his life, in spite of the not inconsiderable earnings 


of his brush. He dwelt among the poor and lived 
as they did. They were his chief clients. His 
pupils were drawn from the same class. Hokkei, 
one of the greatest of them, was an itinerant fish- 
seller before he became an artist. Too much stress 
has been laid by some writers on his appearance 
before the Shogun, but this must not be interpreted 
in the sense of involving a serious recognition of his 
powers on the part of the aristocracy. The incident 
was merely a casual patronage of an unusually 
clever entertainer ; for his dexterity in the making 
of gigantic or minute drawings was probably only 
looked upon as something akin to the feats of a 
juggler. The democracy of Japan had its own 
school of artists, realists in sentiment, if not alto- 
gether in the convention by which it was expressed. 
The subjects it treated were altogether vulgar and 
despicable in the eyes of the educated and refined 
Japanese, and the manner of drawing them was 
considered somewhat coarse and illiterate the calli- 
graphic standard of excellence being always, be it 
remembered, the final test of draughtsmanship. 

We care for none of these refinements. Hokusai's 
sympathy with and appreciation of mere humanity, 
in its everyday phases, appeals to us in his favour. 


We do not realise the great gulf that existed 
between the old feudalism of Japan and the masses 
which lived, happily enough, on the whole, under 
its sway. We do not understand the subtleties of 
Japanese higher art criticism. And so, while many 
Europeans have gone immeasurably astray in their 
estimate of Hokusai's rank in the art of Japan ; in 
that of the world which is over and beyond all 
local cults and criticisms, all racial, political, or 
geographical limitations, we set him, rightly, 
among the greatest. 

It is a habit of critics, justifiable when used in 
moderation, to gauge the worth of one man by 
comparing him with another. Logically, this pro- 
cess is not of great value, since it assumes an esti- 
mate of the second which may not be generally 
acceptable. Yet in this case some enlightenment 
as to certain qualities of both may follow, and, at 
all events, the particular comparison is new, so far 
as I know. 

The one artist who appears to me to have the 
closest kinship with Hokusai, in certain phases of 
his work, is the great French draughtsman, Honore 
Daumier. Both were caricaturists, though from 
standpoints very different. Hokusai's exaggeration 


of the human face and figure is inspired by pure 
joyousness. It is, quite simply, fun ; and has nothing 
in common with the bitter and biting satire of the 
French artist. Neither does Hokusai, in spite of 
the hardship and sorrow of his life, ever depict the 
seamy or pathetic side of humanity. One of the 
invariable and most beautiful of his characteristics 
is an unceasing happiness, a feature not far removed 
from that which inspired the best period of Greek 
art. But in method these two otherwise dissimilar 
geniuses come much more nearly together. Daumier 
worked mainly with soft, easily flowing litho- 
graphic chalk. His line has much of that calli- 
graphic quality which all Japanese connoisseurs 
admire and all Japanese artists strive for. In his 
interpretation of the figure by this means he has, 
like Hokusai, a fine disregard of non-essentials and 
the keenest eye for those salient points that compel 
the instant recognition and admiration of the 
beholder. Allowing for the wide difference of 
what may be termed national conventions, the two 
artists come very closely together in their treatment 
of similar subjects, much more so than probably 
appears at first sight. Both are masters of the art 
of expressing their minds with a few poignant 


strokes of brush or pencil. Stripped of the dis- 
guise imposed on each by the traditions which 
dominated him, their work, in its technique alto- 
gether, and partly in its application to the scenes 
and events of daily life, seems to me to rest largely 
on a common basis. 

Hokusai's output was enormous. Only for the 
few and brief intervals when absolute destitution 
interrupted it, did his production cease during the 
seventy odd years of his working life. And it must 
be remembered that he finished his drawings and 
paintings at lightning speed. The Japanese artist 
never spends half a year or more on the slow and 
laboured building up of one picture. When he is 
ready to paint when the idea is formulated and 
crystallised in his mind the execution is a matter 
of minutes. And Hokusai was extraordinarily 
facile, even by the measure of his compatriots. 
Moreover, his invention was inexhaustible. Prac- 
tically he never repeated himself. Many of the 
Japanese artists of the formal schools are altogether 
lacking in this respect. They rarely departed from 
the themes that they had prescribed for themselves, 
or that their masters had formulated for them. 
This, too, is a point that appeals to Western critics, 



and raises Hokusai in their eyes, though in those of 
the Japanese it hardly helps his credit. 

It has already been explained that in Japan 
Hokusai is not an artist of the first rank. He is 
indeed at the head of his school, but the school is 
that of the lowest repute. The fact that he, in the 
practice of his art, rose infinitely beyond the standard 
of his fellows has not removed the prejudice attach- 
ing to them. The painters of Japan apart from 
those of the Ukiyo-ye School were professedly 
idealists. Realism, as we understand the word, 
was to them evidence of a lack both of imagination 
and of culture. Their abstractions were formulae 
for the expression of poetic, literary or religious 
ideas, and the portrayal of scenes of everyday 
life was inherently vulgar. One has no right 
altogether to deny one's sympathy to this point of 
view. There are more things in its favour than 
would at first sight appear. For the Ukiyo-ye artists, 
it must be admitted, did not, as a class, paint Nature 
as do our realists. Their subjects were largely 
derived from the stage (which was not only 
neglected, but actively despised in all its ways by 
the upper classes of society), and from the singing- 
girls and the courtesans. With these they would 


burlesque the time-honoured histories and customs 
of the aristocracy, and so gained a reputation for 
absolute vulgarity. The heroes, the famous scenes 
of their country's story, the processions of nobles 
before which they still had to abase themselves by 
the wayside : all are represented, in some of the 
best of the colour-print work, by courtesans. We, 
in our happy ignorance, miss the point of these 
beautiful pieces of craftsmanship, but we should 
remember, and allow for, the fact that to the eye 
and taste of a refined Japanese gentleman they 
could hardly be less than abhorrent. 

By this admeasurement, even, Hokusai stands 
above his fellows. For him these tawdry artifici- 
alities counted little when weighed with the 
realities of human life and the beauties of Nature 
that his unwearied eyes loved to gaze upon. In 
his mature years he followed neither the conven- 
tion of his academic predecessors nor the practice of 
his compatriots. He was, indeed, a realist free, 
unfettered, and a law unto himself. And it is in 
virtue of his great humanity, as well as of the 
splendour of his gift of artistry that, in our eyes, he 
ranks with the masters of the world's art. 

Not less is his rank as a man : such a one as 


Thomas Carlyle, of all writers, would have loved 
to write of. His single-minded devotion to his art, 
his wit, his kindliness, the unfailing respect he 
exacted not for himself, but for his calling all 
these are qualities belonging to a character of the 
noblest. Hokusai made many friends. His sayings 
have been cherished and his memory kept green in 
a manner which none of the contemporaries of his 
class have earned. Such glimmerings of light as fall 
upon the lives of some of these Utamaro, Yeisen, 
one of the Hiroshige, for instance show them to 
have been men of a moral stamp sufficiently far re- 
moved from that of the Spartan old philosopher whose 
one fault would dimly appear to have been improvi- 
dence or perhaps unreasoning generosity. The 
titles he chose for his prints prove him to have 
had no slight feeling for poetry, were any further 
proof required than that furnished by the prints 
themselves. His epitaph translates easily into our 
idiom, for all the world to read " Here lies 
Hokusai, a famous artist honest and true." 


TRANSLATIONS ot the titles of the <( Hundred Views of 
Mount Fuji " have been published by Mr. F. V. Dickins. 
M. E. de Goncourt, M. Hayashi, and M. Revon have 
furnished versions in French of those of most of his 
known books, and of many surimono and other prints. 
By way of giving additional help to collectors, the 
following renderings are now set forth compiled mainly 
from material collected by M. Bing, and from the cata- 
logue of the collection of Japanese Colour Prints in the 
Victoria and Albert Museum. 


Note. As explained in chapter iii. there are really 
forty-six of this series. The titles are given in 
De Goncourt's order, which is now generally 
accepted by collectors. 

1 Yejiri (Suruga). A puff of wind. 

2 Ono-shinden (Suruga). Oxen hauling wood. 

3 Katakura (Suruga). The tea-fields ; a man shoeing 

a horse. 

4 Fujimi-no-hara (Owari). A cooper making an irri- 

gation tank. 

5 Koishikawa (Yedo). Snow; a woman pointing at 

Mount Fuji to a group in a tea-house, 


6 Todo-no-Ura. Torii and gatherers of shell-fish. 

7 Fuji from Minobugawa. Horses on the river bank. 

8 Fine weather and a south wind. Mount Fuji a rich 

red against a deep blue sky, with trails of snow 
at the peak ; and clouds behind. 

9 Storm at the foot of the mountain. 

10 Ascent by pilgrims. 

11 Narumi (Kazusa). A large boat. 

12 Ushibori (Hitati). A large boat, of which only half 

is seen. 

13 Lake Suwa (Shinano). A hut under a tree. 

14 Yamanaka (Totomi). Sawyers at work on a great 

baulk of timber. 

15 Onden. The water-wheel. 

1 6 Inume-togai (Kahi). Mount Fuji, with snow- 

covered peak, deep red base, and blue between. 

17 Sansaka (Kahi). Mount Fuji reflected in the lake. 

18 The pass of Mishima (Kahi). A great cedar whose 

trunk is being measured by three men. 

19 Dawn at Isawa (Kahi). 

20 Kanagawa on the T5kaido. The great wave, with 

Mount Fuji in its hollow. 

21 Hodogawa on the TokaidS. The bridge of boats in 


22 Yoshida on the Tokaido. Tea-house. 

23 Kanaya on the Tokaido. A litter carried over a 


24 The strand at Togo near Yeijiri on the T5kaid5. 

25 Yenoshima (Sagami) island. 

26 Nakabara (Sagami). Coolies near a Buddhist monu- 


27 Shitiri-ga-hama (Sagami). A cluster of trees. 

28 The lake of Hakone (Sagami). 

29 Minesama (Sagami). A flock of geese. 

30 Tatekawa in the Honj5 Quarter of Yedo. The dis- 

trict of the timber merchants. 

31 The Mannen-bashi (bridge) at Fukugawa, Yedo. 


32 The pagoda of the Five Hundred Rakan, Yedo. 

Sightseers on the terrace. 

33 The great pine-tree of Aoyama, Yedo. 

34 Kajika-sawa (Kahi). Also called Itchi-butchi-sawa. 

Fisherman casting a net from an overhanging ledge 
of rock. 

35 Meguro district, Yedo. 

36 Senju district, Yedo. Shoeing a horse with straw. 

37 Fuji from the town of flowers (Yoshiwara) of Senju. 

38 Tsukuda-shima. An island at the mouth ol the 

Sumida river, with a boat loaded with cotton. 

39 The Tamagawa (river), Musashi. Small boat loaded 

with drinking-water. 

40 Fuji from Shinagawa at Yedo. 

41 Fuji from the Nihonbashi (bridge) at Yedo. 

42 The shops of Mitsui at Yedo. 

43 Surugadai at Yedo. A hill in the centre of the city, 

with coolies. 

44 The Buddhist Temple Hongwanji at Asakusa, Yedo. 

Workmen repairing the gable. 

45 Evening and the Ryo-goku Bridge, Yedo. 

46 The village of Sekuja on the Sumida river. Three 



Round the waterfalls in various provinces. Signed 
Zen Hokusai Tamekazu. 8 prints. (Printer's 
seal, Yeijudo.) 

1 Aoi-ga-oka cascade, Yedo. 

2 Roben waterfall in the Oyama mountain (Sagami 

province) with bathers. 

3 Kirifuri cascade in Nikkd. 

4 Yoro waterfall in Mino province. 

5 Amida waterfall, near the Kiso road. 

6 Ono waterfall, on the Kiso road. 



7 Kiyotaki cascade at Saka-no-Shita on the Tokaido. 

8 Yoshitsune Uma-arai cascade (cascade where Yoshit- 

sune's horse was washed), in Yoshino mountain. 


Picturesque views of famous bridges in several 
provinces. Signed Zen Hokusai Tamekazu. n 
prints. (Printer's seal, Yeijudo.) 

1 A suspension bridge between the two provinces, Hi 

and Etsu (The Monkey-Bridge) 

2 Fukui bridge in the Echizen province. 

3 Yatsuhashi, in the Mikawa province; from an old 


4 View of Tempozan, with two bridges at the entrance 

of the Aji river in Osaka. 

5 Temma bridge in Osaka. 

6 A bridge near Ashikaga. 

7 Taiko (drum) bridge at Kameido, Yedo. 

8 Kintai bridge in Suo province, 
g Yahage bridge at Okazaki. 

10 Togetsu bridge at Arashi-yama, near Kyoto. 

1 1 Bridge of boats at Sano in Kozuke province ; from an 

old picture. 


Famous views of Osaka. 20 prints, 
i Sunrise at Sakura-no-miya. The early morning mist 

at Ajima. 
2, Kawasaki ; the return of the wild ducks. 

3 The swallows of Watashiba with children flying kites 

at Bungobashi. 

4 Cherry-blossom at Matsunoshita and peach-blossom 

at Tsukiji. 


5 The Temmabashi in late spring ; and mirage at 


6 Arrival of a ferry-boat at Hachiken-Ya and green 

vegetable market at Ichinokawa. 

7 The crowd at Temmei Bridge : a school-boy's visit 

to Temmei Ten j in. 

8 Fishing at Ajikawa. 

9 The cry of the cuckoo in the rainy season of the sth 

month at Higashi-bori. 

10 The castle of Osaka. 

1 1 The summer moon at Korai bridge. 

12 Fireflies at Kinsoba when the evening bell rings from 

the Horikawa Temple. 

13 The song of the crickets at Tahei bridge ; with the 

fishermen of Kitahama. 

14 Fireworks at Naniwa bridge. 

15 The beginning of a storm at Yamazaki : autumn 

evening, Nishitemma. 

1 6 River fog at Funairi bridge. 

17 Dragon-flies at Nakanoshima. 

18 " Urabon " scene at Oye bridge, Hojima, in the 

beginning of autumn. (" Urabon " is a Buddhist 
feast of Hindu origin, on the I3th-i6th days of the 
7th month, when offerings are made to deceased 

19 Feast of Jizo at Yoriba ; a procession of children 

with images of Jizd, and a seller of insects (Higo- 

20 Moonlight on Watanabe bridge. 


Views of Yedo and the neighbourhood. A set of 

21 prints. 

i Shinagawa. A refreshment stall with a view of Yedo 


2 Umeyashiki. Plum-garden. 

3 Asakayama. Picnic in the season of cherry- 


4 Kameido ; the Temple of Tenjin : famous for wis- 

taria flowers. A Shinto priest with a votive offering, 
speaking to a sweeper. 

5 Sacred procession at the festival of Fukagawa 

Hachima Temple. 

6 The Nihon-bashi. The Uwogashi (Fish-market). 

7 Part of the procession at the festival of Sanno 

Temple, burlesquing the suite of the Corean Envoy. 

8 Tenjin Temple at Yushima. 

9 Shinobazu Lake. Gathering lotus-leaves used for 

enfolding offerings to departed souls at the " Bon " 
festival (yth month). 

10 Sumida river. Women enjoying the cool breeze. 

11 The Yoshiwara on the ist day of the 8th month, 

when all the courtesans wear white. 

12 Enjoying the cool air beneath Ryogoku bridge. 

13 A crowd at the Shimmei Temple, Shiba. Every one 

buys there raw ginger, and steel for use with flints. 

14 Visit to Homyoji Temple at Zojigawa, and to Myohoji 

Temple at Horinuchi about the isth day of the 
loth month; the anniversary of the death of 
Nichiren (A.D. 1282), founder of the Hokki sect. 

15 Temple of Kanda Myojin. A boy seven years of age, 

being invested for the first time in a man's garments. 

1 6 Meguro Temple devoted to the deity Fudo. 

17 The steps leading to the Atago Temple, 

1 8 Woji Temple. The scene of a festival held on the 

day of the Horse in the 2nd month. 

19 The last day's Fair at Asakusa Temple. 
30 Theatre at Sakai street. 

21 Snow scene at Mimeguri. 



Tokaido go-yu-san-tsugi. The Fifty-three stages 
of the Tokaido road. 56 prints. 

1 Nihonbashi, Yedo, near Uwoogashi (Fish-market). 

2 Shinagawa. A brothel. 

3 Kawasaki. A ferry. 

4 Kanagawa. An entertainment with Geisha. 

5 Hodogawa. Fish-reservoir. 

6 Totsuka. A large Buddha image. 

7 Fujisawa. Coast near Yenoshima islet. 

8 Hiratsuka. An entrance to a temple. 

9 Oiso. A stone called Torakoishi. The famous Oiso- 

no-Tora, a courtesan (i3th cent.) is said to have 
metamorphosed herself into this stone : some say 
that this stone is so called because its shape re- 
sembles a " trepang " (Torako). 

10 Odawara. A stall for resting. 

11 Hakone. Ladies in palanquin. 

12 Mishima. A temple. Postmen running. 

13 Numadzu. A palanquin resting. 

14 Haras. Corean Envoy and his suite wondering at 

the Mount Fuji. 

15 Yoshiwara. Preparing white wine. 

16 Kambara. Making salt. 

17 Yui. A Chinese writing a "Gaku" to Sei-ken-do 


1 8 Okitsu. Pine forest at Mio. 

19 Yejiri. A palanquin-bearer and a horse-driver out 

of work. 

20 Fuchu. A house of bad repute. 

21 Mariko. Preparing broth. 

22 Okabi. Discharging a hackney-horse. 

23 Fujiyeda. Travellers (to the left) and pilgrims (to 

the right). 


24 Shimada. River-waders. A river-wader asking to 

be hired by a passenger, who can only cross the 
river Oi on his shoulders. 

25 Kanaya. Scene of the river Oi. 

26 Nissaka. Ascending the slope. 

27 Kakegawa. Huge kites, for which this district is 


28 Fukoroi. Passengers, a Priest, and a Pilgrim. 

29 Maisaka. Embarking to cross I magiri gulf. Imagire 

means "New Cut"; it was formerly a lake, but 
became a gulf by a land- slip, A.D. 1499. 

30 Arai. Barrier-gate, and officers examining the pass- 


31 Shirasuka. A group of passengers. 

32 Futagawa. A horse-driver shoeing his horse. 

33 Yoshida. A long bridge called Toyohashi, 

34 Goyu. A mound dedicated to a deity called Koshin. 

35 Akasaka. A macaroni house. 

36 Fujikawa. A woman on a hackney-horse. 

37 Hamamatsu. A lotus-pond. 

38 Mitsuke. A spear-bearer waiting for his master, a 

c Samurai." 

39 Akazaki. A procession of a " Daimy5." 

40 Chirifu. A boy meeting a huge carp. 

41 Narumi. Famous for stencil-work. Here a shop 

for its sale is painted. 

42 Miya. Ferry-boats. 

43 Kawana. Baking clams. 

44 Yokkaichi. Ise pilgrims, who travel to the Temple 

of Ise, by charities. 

45 Ishiyakushi. The renowned " Ushiwaka " cherry- 


46 Shono. Boys driving a bull. 

47 Kameyama. Travellers resting in a tavern. 

48 Seki. Passengers in snow. 

49 Sakanoshita. A "Komuso" (warrior-mendicant) 

speaking with a girl. 


7 1 

50 Isuchiyama. Azalea-flowers. 

51 Minakuchi. A tavern ; selling sea-weed jelly. 

52 Kusatsu. A passenger, a hackney-driver, and 

begging soldier. 

53 Ishibe. Passengers on a drawbridge. 

54 Otsu. A fountain. 

55 Kyoto. Emperor's procession. 

56 Imperial court. 

Tavistock Street, London 


THE TIMES. "Another series of little art monographs ^which is as 
attractive in format as any." 

THE STANDARD. " This nicely printed little volume contains repro- 
ductions of some of the more famous Bartolozzi prints, together 
with a list of most of the important ones." 

MORNING POST. " The Langham Series: The first volume, ' Barto- 
lozzi and his Pupils in England? by Mr. Selwyn Brinton, is an 
excellent summary of a subject most popular at the present time. 
It should prove a great boon to the collector." 

PALL MALL GAZETTE. "Mr. Brinton is himself a collector and 
knows his subject thoroughly. The volume is illustrated, and should 
make an appeal to all interested in the art of engraving." 

" WESTMINSTER GAZETTE." " 'Bartolozzi,' by Selwyn Brinton (A. 
Siegle), is the first of what promises to prove a series of very 
dainty little monographs on artistic subjects. . . . Mr. Selivyn 
Brinton^ -whose excellent volumes on the Italian Renaissance and 
Correggio will be known to many readers, writes of his subject 
with admirable knowledge and discrimination ; and to all who 
would learn more of Bartolozzi and his work, his brightly written 
pageS) which are embellished by many dainty illustrations t may 
be cordially commended." 

ACADEMY AND LITERATURE. " Bartolozzi and his Pupils in Eng-land." 
" In this delightful little book we have a most excellent collectio, 
of prints from the master . . . We have in complete, cheap, cor. 
venient form, well indexed and nicely printed what may prove i 

SCOTSMAN. " There is undoubtedly a considerable body of collectors 
of Bartolozzi' s works in this country, and this little book should 
serve as a handbook to such persons." 

BIRMINGHAM DAILY POST. " The first volume of the series, 'Barto- 
lozzi and his Pupils in England,' is full of information to the 
lovers of specimens of the engravers' art." 

THE OBSERVER. " Well produced and written by acknowledged 
authorities^ these new little books will probably find a ready 
welcome. ' ' 

THE SHEFFIELD INDEPENDENT. "Mr. Brinton presents us with a 
wholly sympathetic and adequate study of Bartolozzi 's work." 

IRISH TIMES (Dublin). " 'Bartolozzi and his Pupils in England' is 
a charming little book dealing with the life of the famous engraver. 
Mr. Brinton writes with a thorough knowledge of his subject." 

"i via attr la UCT 4 1366 

Strange, Sdward Fairbrothe 



ND Strange, Edv&rd Fairbrother 

1059 Hokusai, the old man mad 

K35S8 with painting